Old rule: Godliness is assumed but not required
New rule: Godliness is required but not assumed
In the past it was assumed that if a pastor had done theological college training and had been ordained, then he was godly. A good pastor carried out the duties of preaching, visiting, marrying, burying and pastoral care – and didn’t do anything bizarre. Following increasing revelations of moral failure and financial impropriety in the media, this view has been undermined.
Churches and para-church organisations moved godliness up to the top of the priority list and increased their diligence in assessing the character and spirituality of leaders. The leader is expected to have a close personal relationship with God that is lived out in prayer, chastity, financial accountability, integrity and relational authenticity. Any flaws are less likely to be given the benefit of the doubt. And full-time Christian ministry isn’t the only area of leadership subject to scrutiny – integrity is a major issue for all areas of public life, both for great and small!
I believe this is a good development – the heart of leadership is to live a life of example and the primary leadership requirement in the New Testament is that of character. Too many pastors fall due to moral or financial failure. (see my resource paper on ‘Marriage, Sex and Leadership’ to the right hand side of this posting.)
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